Easter foods for Holy Week
Resident foodie Dora Kitinas-Gogos gives us her fail safe recipes for tsoureki and koulourakia just in time for Holy Week
These days most people don't fast for the whole forty days and minimise the fasting period to the Holy Week, and some don't fast at all. Whatever one decides to do, it does to take away from the fact that Easter is the holiest time in the Greek Orthodox calendar.
The food is cooked on certain days if one goes by what the church tells us. Μεγάλη Πέμπτη (Holy Thursday) is the day that the baking is done, the tsourekia, koulouria and the dying of the red eggs.
Koulourakia Paschalina (Easter biscuits)
There are countless recipes for koulourakia, I have tried many, this one I'm giving is relatively easy one to make
1 cup butter, plus extra for greasing cookie sheets, 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground mastic
1/4 cup orange juice
1 oz baking soda
1/2 cup milk
9 cups all purpose flour
Egg wash, made by beating one egg with two tablespoons of milk
Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease the cookie sheets with butter.
1. Beat together the butter and sugar with a mixer. Beating constantly add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla, mastic and orange juice and mix.
2. Change to the dough hook. Combine the baking soda and milk in a bowl.
3. Beating constantly adding the milk mixture in three batches alternating with the flour. Knead the mixture, adding flour if necessary to form a smooth, easy to handle dough.
4. Take pieces of the dough and form them into balls about 3/4 of an inch in circumference. It will be convenient to finish rolling all the dough before proceeding to the next step
5. Roll each ball into a rod shape and fold it in half, then Place them on the cookie sheets and brush them with egg wash.
6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. They should have a light golden color. Not too brown.
7. Take out of the oven and let cool slightly. Remove them from the cookie sheets carefully, as koulourakia can be fragile. Stack them in layers inside cookie tins.
Koulourakia will keep for up to two months, unless you have little two legged creatures that are always hungry, that can open tins and take out handfuls of koulourakia to enjoy with a glass of milk.
Tsoureki (Sweet Easter bread)
This is a fail safe recipe; it has come to me via a friend from Thessaloniki that her mother taught her that has been in their family for generations. I have translated it from the Greek, which utilises Greek ingredients, and have substituted with what we have here; it is a large quantity as in Greece baking is not for the weak. If you want a smaller quantity, half the recipe.
* Amongst the spices there is a spice called κουκουλέ (koukoule), I cant find a translation for it and therefore have omitted it, if you know what it is please include it and please let me know what it is, thank you.
3 kilos plain flour
126 grams fresh yeast
1,250 grams sugar
10 - 12 eggs
1 litre warm milk
1 soupspoon of salt
1 packet of mahlepi
1 packet masticha
2 tablespoons of seed oil
125 grams of unsalted butter
1. Everything has to be warm
2. The butter goes in at the end
3. We don't kneed, we only fold till everything becomes one. This is important as to much kneading, makes the gluten more glutinous and will make the tsoureki hard.
1. Dissolve the yeast in a glass of warm water adding a little of the flour till it has a runny dough consistency, cover and put aside in a warm spot till it rises
2. In a large bowel put the sugar, salt, the spices, the seed oil.
3. Add the warm milk and mix
4. Beat the eggs slightly in a separate bowl and add them the mixture
5. Add the yeast and mix everything preferably by hand
6. Add the flour gradually folding gently by hand till we have soft dough.
7. Melt the butter and add while warm but not hot and fold in gently till all the butter is one with the dough
8. The dough should be warm; we put it aside to rise covered well. I usually cover with a blanket as previous women in my family have done. Leave for at least an hour or when the dough had double its size.
9. Make the tsourekia into any shape that you wish and you might like to add a red egg
10. Put the tsourekia aside to rest for 1/2 hour, brush with an egg yolk that has been slightly diluted in warm water
11. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a medium heat of 170 C, the time depends on the size.
Kali Orexi and Kalo Pasha!
You can contact Dora via email at email@example.com
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